Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Bittersweet Goodbye

Hometown Reunion is the final book in a series of seven novels set on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
Although the seaside fishing village of Kiptohanock isn't real, many of the landmarks and towns I've sprinkled throughout the series are very real. Including Quinby, Onley, Onancock, Wachapreague, Chincoteague and others.

 I visited the Eastern Shore for the first time when I was twenty-one. It was a transformational summer for me in more ways than I can begin to share. Over the years, I have tried to return to this unique place and these wonderful people as often as time allowed. There is so much natural beauty here.

The Eastern Shore gave me a lot of firsts. Here, this big city girl first went fishing; first went clamming in a tidal marsh; first learned to eat crab—a labor intensive endeavor. Here, on a sailboat in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay at midnight, I beheld the Milky Way for the first time. And here I fell in love with a life that is attuned to the rhythmic cycle of the moon and tide. All of us need a place of peace, tranquility and safe harbor in our lives. This is that place for me.

These contemporary love stories allowed me the opportunity of additional visits, more time with beloved friends. The novels enabled me to further explore this isolated, yet vibrant culture with my children. I think my family have now also fallen in love with this place and these very special people.

One last adventure there—it was a fun story to write. It made my editor sob—when I've done that, I know I've done my job.

It is about love’s second chance—my favorite kind of love story. Jax’s son, almost “thwee”-year-old Brody is the most adorable child character I’ve ever written. Yet there were deeper issues that each character had to grapple with.

Have you ever struggled with guilt? Which have you found harder—to forgive someone else or to forgive yourself? Neither are easy. Or have you ever felt second best or second choice?

Whenever you’re feeling second choice, read Isaiah 43 to see how much God loves you. He has redeemed you and called you by name. You have a place all your own in God’s heart. You have been chosen —you are His.

True guilt drives us to repentance and helps us find our way back to what is right. False guilt, however, brings only condemnation with no way out. True guilt leading to repentance brings freedom and healing. False guilt paralyses and enslaves.

This is a heavy burden we were never created to shoulder. Jesus took the heavy load of sin on the cross so that we don’t have to. He is the only one who can be our burden-bearer. It is in the laying down of our burdens that we find rest and peace in Him.

May we all find the strength to finally accept what is past, to fully embrace the present and to look to the future with hope-filled eyes.

Thanks for traveling to Kiptohanock with me. Thanks for allowing me to share a very special place and people with you. But I have other stories to tell. Though we must leave Kiptohanock, further adventures await in a new series of books set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I hope you will join me there.

So wishing you fair winds and following seas one last time,


Where is your happy place?

Monday, April 23, 2018

New for May from Our Contemporary Love Inspired Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with a new must buy from our Love Inspired Contemporary authors. Just click on the cover to purchase it. And to learn more about Lisa, click on her name.

Hometown Reunion
by Lisa Carter 

A single dad starting over.
Is this his second chance at love?

Widowed former Green Beret Jaxon Pruitt comes home to face his toughest battle: reconnecting with his toddler son. He also makes an unwitting enemy of childhood friend Darcy Parks when he takes over the kayak shop Darcy hoped to buy! For little Brody’s sake, she’ll stay until summer’s end. But could a growing connection turn their temporary truce into an unexpected forever?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Scripture

The Good Shepherd, Bernard Plockhorst, 19th C.

Jesus said:
"I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father."
John 10:11-18

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Grateful Writer!

By Debby Giusti

Thank you!

I’m sending my thanks to each and every one of you who have ever bought or read one of my books. Your emails, messages, and letters touch me deeply. Your kind words when we meet in person do as well.

For so many years, I worked to become a better writer, to learn the craft and to incorporate the various writing techniques into my stories. Eventually my attempts to create a compelling story that would attract an editor’s eye and lead to a publishing contract paid off.  My dream came true in 2007 with the publication of my debut novel, NOWHERE TO HIDE. Since then I’ve had 21 books published by Love Inspired Suspense and two independently published stories.

Photos are from my UNDERCOVER AMISH signing.
This afternoon, I’ll sign AMISH RESCUE, the third book in my Amish Protectors series, at Books-A-Million in Peachtree City, GA. If you’re in the area, stop by. I’ll be manning a table in the front of the store from 3:30 to 6:30 PM. I always donate the proceeds, along with an added personal donation, to a local charity. My readers know that by buying my book they are also supporting a worthwhile cause. Today’s signing will benefit Pregnancy Aid Clinic, an Atlanta based center that provides life-changing and life-saving pregnancy services free of charge to women in the Atlanta area.

The lovely ladies in this book club always come to my signings!

I’ll also have a drawing for an author gift basket. The Writer’s Prayer and The Reader’s Prayer will be available along with other fun giveaways. If you would like an autographed copy of AMISH RESCUE and can’t get to the signing, BAM takes phone orders (770-632-1296) and sends the signed book or books to the customers.

Hosting a signing is a humbling experience, and I greatly appreciate of all the people who attend each and every event. Truly, they bless me in so many ways.
I hate that people have to wait in line,
but no one ever complains.

Readers, do you enjoy book signings and look forward to meeting new authors? Authors, do you host signings in your local areas? Are signings a good way to meet new readers?

I’m sure the other Love Inspired Authors join me in sending thanks and gratitude to all of you, the wonderful readers who visit this blog, for your support, your encouragement and your friendship.

Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Amish Rescue
By Debby Giusti

Hiding with the Amish

Englischer Sarah Miller escapes her captor by hiding in the buggy of an Amish carpenter. Joachim Burkholder is her only hope—and donning Plain clothing is the only way to keep safe and find her missing sister. But for Joachim, who’s just returning to the Amish, the forbidden Englischer is trouble. Trapping her kidnapper risks his life, but losing Sarah risks his heart.

Order HERE from Amazon!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Celebrating 25 years of writing books and a few other things--Lenora Worth

Hello. I haven't been on here in a while. Due to some life changes, I'm scaling back on a few things so I can focus on writing. But today is my birthday (I'm 31 twice!!!) So I wanted to celebrate that. Then I realized that this past March marks twenty-five years of my being published in contemporary commercial fiction! It's hard to believe that many years have passed. But oh, the fun I've had along the way! I could go on and on with memories but I do remember that in Orlando at my very first Harlequin party, I had on the same dress as another woman. We took our picture together but I have no idea where that picture is. I remember the price tag on that dress, too. A treat to myself.

I also remember the first time I went to NY in 2003 (I think.) I wore a dress to the Harlequin black-and-white ball that I got on sale for thirty bucks at Dillard's. I still have that dress! I have memories of meeting many of the Ladies here during those times and making lifetime friends. I'm one of the old-timers around here now. Back in the day, I made up Bad Girl names for us because we had to follow so many guidelines in our stories. I was Elnora, of course. And I still am some days. Everyone wanted a bad girl name and while my editors frowned on it, it helped us all to not take ourselves too seriously. (My editors still frown at me a lot now, too.)

Anyway, I'm off to celebrate with Big D all day long, but I'll be checking in from time to time. I want to give away books! So leave a comment and tonight at 9 PM Central time, I'll post two winners.

I'll be giving away the following: One print or e-copy of Their Amish Reunion and one e-book only copy of Undercover Princess (from Tule Publishing.) Two very different stories, but each with their own faith thread.

Help me celebrate 25 years of having the time of my life and being thankful for this trip around the world with another birthday.

And tell me some of your favorite memories. I'd love to hear them!!!

Thank you all for supporting my writing dreams and thanks to all my Love Inspired friends and editors for the fun times, challenges and the always loving friendships!!!! Here's to twenty-five more!

Monday, April 16, 2018

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Join contemporary and historical Christian characters as they experience the challenges of life, the promise of hope and the wonder of romance.

Read a FREE excerpt. Decide which series you like best. Choose Regular or Larger Print. Love Inspired will send your two free books plus two mystery gifts (approximate retail value of $10) directly to your door. Once you're a member, all you have to do is sit back and read.

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Print Books

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Scripture

The Road to Emmaus, Joseph von Fuhrich,
1837. [PD-US]

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them 
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
"Peace be with you."
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have."
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?"
They gave him a piece of baked fish; 
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
"These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled."
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
"Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things."
Luke 24:35-48

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Military Working Dogs

Good morning, Terri Reed here, off to a late start. That seems to be how my life is going lately. I'm knee deep writing a new book. But I want to talk about the new Military K-9 Unit continuity series from Love Inspired Suspense featuring Military Working Dogs and their handlers. This was a challenging series to be a part of because I'd never written a military set book. There was so much fascinating information to learn and all of the authors involved worked really hard to make our stories adhere to the codes and regulations of the military, while still providing a sweeping suspense plot, satisfying romances and happily ever afters.

And of course we all fell in love with the dogs.  Here are some fun facts about the first five K-9 heroes.  There are eight full length novels in the series, two Christmas novellas, and a short story online prequel that came out in March. Here's the link for the full collection
Do you have dog? A pet? 
I'd love to giveaway a signed copy of Mission to Protect to a commenter. And we'd love to see a photo of you pet.

Book 1 Mission to Protect by Terri Reed

Book 2 Bound By Duty  by Valerie Hansen
Book 3 Top Secret Target by Dana Mentink

Book 4 Standing Fast by Maggie K. Black
Book 5 Rescue Operation by Lenora Worth

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spring Has Sprung with a New Office

In Arkansas, spring means it's 75 one day, then a plunge to 28 with sleet and snow, then back up to 65 in a 48 hour period. In April. Over the years, I've shared an office with my husband or had a corner in the living room for my desk. Until this spring.
We just finished a major remodel and room addition. My new office is complete minus a bit of trim. The door that goes into the rest of the house isn't installed yet, but eventually, I'll be able to close myself off when I'm on deadline. Even without the door, my space is on the back of the house and secluded enough that my family can watch TV in the great room and I can't hear them.

I finally got to make curtains out of the pastel seashell fabric I bought twenty years ago. I painted the walls a soothing seafoam green and I can strew seashells and beachy decor until my heart is content. My indoor/outdoor cat has his perch in the window and continues to be my muse after making a full recovery from a coyote attack last spring. Don't worry, he doesn't get to go out at night any more.

I also have an exterior door that leads to my outdoor office now - a screened in porch. All I need is a desk out there, some tools and building supplies cleared off, and the gas company to move our propane tanks to improve my view. My old fashioned wood screen door makes that awesome clapping sound when you go out. And there's a small pet door so my two outdoor cats can enjoy my screened porch too. They're both scaredy cats and don't wander far enough for coyotes, but they feel safe in the enclosed porch.

My space is slowly coming together, just in time for inspiration to strike. It's always bittersweet when a series ends. My latest release and the final title in my Texas Cowboys series is Counting on the Cowboy. But I'm itching to start a new series in my new office space.

Question: Do you have a space of your own? Answer and I'll put you in the drawing for my blog tour. Lots of books up for grabs along with a hand-crafted memory board according to your design.
Award winning author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has over a dozen published titles. A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does.

She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural Arkansas where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.

Connect with her: Shannon’s Website, Shannon’s Blog, Shannon’s Facebook, Shannon’s Goodreads, Shannon’s Pinterest, Shannon’s Twitter, and  Shannon’s Amazon Author Page. Sign up for her Newsletter to get a free e-book and behind the scenes info: Shannon's Newsletter

Monday, April 9, 2018

New for April from Our Love Inspired Suspense Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with new must buys from our Love Inspired Suspense authors. Just click on the cover to purchase the book. And to learn more about Margaret, Debby, and Terri, click on their names.

Texas Ranger Showdown
by Margaret Daley 

She was taunted by a killer.
Margaret Daley’s thrilling Lone Star Justice series continues, this time pitting radio therapist Dr. Caitlyn Rhodes against a methodical murderer. First, her patients are found dead, then the mocking phone calls start. The evidence is pointing Texas Ranger Ian Pierce to one conclusion: he must protect Caitlyn from becoming this vicious killer’s next victim…before he loses the woman he once loved—for good.
Amish Rescue
by Debby Giusti 

Another thrilling book in the Amish Protectors series
Englischer Sarah Miller escapes her captor by hiding in the buggy of an Amish carpenter. Joachim Burkholder is her only hope—and donning Plain clothing is the only way to keep safe and find her missing sister. But for Joachim, who’s just returning to the Amish, the forbidden Englischer is trouble. Trapping her kidnapper risks his life, but losing Sarah risks his heart.
Mission To Protect
by Terri Reed 

A riveting new series begins!
When the Red Rose Killer leaves his calling card for Staff Sergeant Felicity Monroe, she knows exactly what that means—she’s on his revenge list. Her boss, Master Sergeant Westley James, and K-9 German shepherd Dakota become her guardians, but they’ll have to act fast to escape the man who wants her dead.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Scripture

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, 1601-1602,. [PD-US]

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
But he said to them,
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked, 
and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe."
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

John 20:19-31

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.
The Lord is pouring His abundant mercy upon the world.
Jesus, we trust in You!

Friday, April 6, 2018

It's Still Possible!

Howdy, Pamela Tracy here...

I'm often talking with a group of people - friends, acquaintances, strangers passing the time away (I'm not shy, I talk to everyone) - and the conversation turns to television and what we watch.

I really don't get to watch television.  In the morning when I write, I turn it on for noise and listen to Matlock or Diagnosis Murder.  I watched them years ago and I know I won't get distracted from writing by needing to know how an episode ends.

Strange, huh?  Anyone else do that?

The last weekly show I watched was The Gilmore Girls.  Gasp, I know.  And even then, I watched it on DVD's because I'd missed it on true time.

I purchased the first season of Downtown Abby over three years ago.  Haven't watched episode one yet.

Then, two months ago, my family and I rented a cabin in Christopher Creek, AZ, and one evening we watched the tiny television that was sitting on top of the fridge (this cabin was premiere in saving space).  There were maybe ten channel (wow!) and finally we settled on a show we'd never seen before.  The only reason this show won was because it featured a sixth grade boy and my son Mike is in seventh.

It was The Goldbergs.

Since that weekend, we've watched - as a family - an episode each night.

Here's what makes me happiest about the show.  In a time when so much on television celebrates violence or  sexual 'tropes' that I don't wish my 13 year old to see over and over and over and over an over... here is a show that celebrates creativity in children as well as the love of two very different parents.

Yikes!  And, surprise, surprise, it's a success.

I think this might be why Love Inspired is such a success.  It celebrates coming together (and wow, think of how different the coming together is in LI, LIS, and LIH).  It celebrates family, community, and faith.  Yup, it celebrates the creativity in God as well as the love that blossoms between two very different H and H's.

Yikes!  And, surprise, surprise, the happily-ever-after is a success.

So, what show is your favorite and why!
I wish I could say I'm reading an LI right now, but I'm not.  I'm reading Fannie Flagg's Can't Wait to Get to Heaven.  Then, yup, there's an LI on my bedstand.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Why I Write Category Romances By Margaret Daley

Why I write category romancesBy Margaret Daley

I have been writing for Love Inspired lines since 2000 and have enjoyed creating  Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense books. Writing for a category inspirational romance publisher has challenged me and helped me to grow as a writer.

What have I learned writing category romances? I’ve learned first and foremost how to tell a story in a concise way. I had to learn to pick and choose what was important to tell the reader, which isn’t always that easy to see, especially when you are so close to the story. What we should do is introduce the hero and heroine and let the reader get a sense of who the protagonists are in the present before we flood them with their back story (and actually a writer should never “flood” the reader with the back story but sprinkle it in throughout). 
But often as a writer we want to jump in and explain everything at the beginning so the reader will “understand.” That was the way it was done when I first started writing years ago. We often took a chapter or so to let the readers discover who the main characters were before we really introduce the conflicts between them. Not anymore—which leads me to another reason I write for category.

I have learned (still learning) to tell a fast paced story that will keep today’s reader turning the page. Nothing is better than receiving a note from a reader telling me that I kept them up all night reading my book. That is one of the highest honors I could receive from a reader. Up until recently I taught at a high school. I discovered that the teens I worked with thought most of the classic novels were boring. When I studied those novels, I could see their point. It took quite a while to get into the story. The books were wordy and the authors often padded the basic story. I wanted these students to learn to love reading as I do so I looked at books that told a compelling story that was fast paced. That is what they read and I saw some good results. Remember, these same teens are used to a story being told in an hour on a television show. If the show didn’t grab their attention, they used the remote and moved on to another show. A category story requires an author to tell a story quickly (or should), to choose her words carefully. There is little room for unnecessary information in the stories. These stories are fast reads that can often be read in one sitting.

In a category romance there is always a happy ending (which is another reason I read and write category stories—I love a happy ending), but the story is in how the characters get there. Millions of people read category romances and keep coming back. They like the idea of a happy ending. That’s one of the reasons they keep reading them, but what intrigues them is how the author gets the hero and heroine together—the conflicts, the type of characters portrayed, and in my line, what part their faith plays in their lives. So when people pick up a category romance, they know how the book will end but not how they will get there.

I’ve been blessed to have the best of both worlds. I get to write a romance story and a romantic suspense by writing for Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense books. I love to write an emotional story but also a story with a mystery and suspense element (not to mention a faith element). After reading one of these, you walk away with hope for love and a relationship with the opposite sex.  Hope is so important in this world and that’s really why I write inspirational category romances and romantic suspense books.

I have a new release, Texas Ranger Showdown. This is the 3rd book in my Lone Star Justice series.Blurb: Stop me.” She was taunted by a killer.Margaret Daley’s thrilling Lone Star Justice series continues, this time pitting radio therapist Dr. Caitlyn Rhodes against a methodical murderer. First, her patients are found dead, then the mocking phone calls start. The evidence is pointing Texas Ranger Ian Pierce to one conclusion: he must protect Caitlyn from becoming this vicious killer’s next victim…before he loses the woman he once loved—for good.
Buy links: Amazon, Barnes and NobleAppleKobo and Google Play.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Wildfire Season is Here! - Leigh Bale

Leigh Bale here.  Where I live, the temperature got up to 60 degrees today!!!  While the Easterners are buried in snow banks, we have warmer weather here on the West Coast.  But it's not any easier here.

The normal wildfire fighting season is May-October.  But that has been shifting.  Because of the hyper droughts in the west, we're getting nasty wildfires.  Hundreds of homes have been lost, not to mention the damage to vegetation and animal life.  Many people have been killed.  And what follows is terrible erosion.  Hundreds of people have lost their homes as entire mountainsides come down on top of them along with rocks and boulders.  And the ranchers who can't water their livestock end up selling off their stock, hoping their livelihood will survive.  Of course, this drives up the price of meat across the entire nation.  But because of this phenomena, the wildfire fighting season is shifting to all year long!  It has taxed both stamina and our governmental budgets, which have been outpaced by the demand for wildfire fighters to work all year.  I'm so grateful to them for answering the call.

How about you?  Are you getting snow or drought where you live?  No matter which, stay safe out there!

And you can read a heartwarming story about one of our very own international hotshot crews in my new book out this month titled REUNITED BY A SECRET CHILD.  You might also enjoy one of my other many books.  Just visit me anytime online and drop me a line at:  www.LeighBale.com   Enjoy!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Jean C. Gordon here with a new must buy from our Love Inspired Historical authors. Just click on the cover to purchase the book. And to learn more about Cheryl, click on her name.

The Rancher Inherits a Family
by Cheryl St. John 

The pretty redhead Seth Halloway pulls from a derailed train has surprising news for him. The children she’s accompanied to Cowboy Creek aren’t hers—they’re his, thanks to the last wishes of a late friend. Busy rancher Seth must suddenly cope with three rambunctious boys…and try to ignore his growing feelings for independent Marigold Brewster.

Marigold hopes to start over as the town’s new schoolteacher. She’ll choose her own path, and stay aloof from the adorable Radner boys—and their guardian. But the man who rescued her from a wrecked railcar might just be the one to save her from loneliness…if she dares to let him in.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Sunday Scripture

The disciples Peter and John running to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection,
Eugene Burnand, 1898. [PD-US]

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, 
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter 
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, 
"They have taken the Lord from the tomb, 
and we don't know where they put him."
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter 
and arrived at the tomb first; 
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, 
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 
and the cloth that had covered his head, 
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, 
the one who had arrived at the tomb first, 
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture 
that he had to rise from the dead.
John 20:1-9

The Authors of Love Inspired: A Story for Every Reader 
wish you and yours a joyous and blessed Easter. 

He is Risen! 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Research as inspiration for the Amish author by Jo Ann Brown

I’ve always loved research. Probably that’s one of the reasons why I started out writing historicals. I want to surround myself with piles of books and read my way through all of them to learn the details of lives in a different time or place. Out of all that reading, both the “just the facts” and the anecdotal examples, I always find inspiration.
When I was asked to write my first Amish book, I realized how much I didn’t know, even though I’d lived for years not far from several Amish communities in southeastern Pennsylvania. My acquaintance with my Amish neighbors was during conversations at farm stands while I decided on whether to buy one shoofly pie or two...or maybe another package of the delicious molasses cookies as well. I’d also attended yard sales in the spring at plain homes and had a great time talking with neighbors about the weather and raising kids.
But writing plain characters required more than what little I’d learned through those polite conversations. So I dove into research as I always do – starting with the simplest books I could find, including children’s books. I found an excellent series of books from The People’s Place dealing with topics like schools and clothing and weddings. As I learned the basics, I went on to more complex research with more in-depth books published by plain authors and by college professors.
During the months—actually years, now that I look back at it—that I was writing the Amish Hearts miniseries for Love Inspired, I continued to block out time for research reading. I subscribed to The Budget, the weekly written for and by Amish and Mennonite readers, as well as finding other plain publications like The Blackboard Bulletin (a monthly aimed at plain schoolteachers) and Family Life (a monthly for families to share and read aloud).
By the way, if you missed Debby Giusti’s excellent blog post on The Budget earlier this month, go back and read it! I also found sources (see those aforementioned yard sales) for authentic Amish clothing for men, women and children. I went to the stores where plain folks shop and compared the farms where they live to the farm where I grew up.
So much fun!
But my miniseries was drawing to a close with my January 2018 release An Amish Arrangement, and I needed to come up with an idea for a new series that excited me enough to spend a year of more writing 3-4 books. Every idea I came up with seemed to be too tried and true.
In exasperation, I turned back to my own tried and true method—I went to the shelves of my research books and took down one I hadn’t read yet. I took it with me on a cross-country flight, and somewhere over the middle of the country, I came across a small paragraph about “older girls’ groups”—social groups for unmarried young women who have aged out of the usual youth groups.
A light bulb went off in my head. Here was an idea I hadn’t seen used before in an Amish series. That’s how the Amish Spinsters Club was born. The stories about four friends who really don’t fit in with either the young unmarrieds or the newlywed/married women kick off on May 22, 2018 with The Amish Suitor.As I’m writing this, I’m working on the third book in what will be a four book miniseries, and I’m just as excited as when I found that tidbit at 40,000 feet in the sky.
Of course, now I’ve got to start thinking about the next set of stories I want to write, and you’ll know right where to find me. Next to my bookshelves with my nose in a book, seeking that bit of information that will set my imagination on fire again.